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Observers find Bangladesh elections 'peaceful and organised'

  • Senior Correspondent
    Published: 2018-12-31 14:39:17 BdST


A group of local and international observers has described Sunday’s national elections as 'peaceful and organised' and ‘far better’ than previous elections in Bangladesh.

SAARC Human Rights Foundation and the Election Monitoring Forum organised a press briefing on Monday at the National Press Club to reveal what they saw during the elections, which ruling the Awami League won landslide. The Jatiya Oikya Front opposition alliance led by Dr Kamal Hossain has demanded fresh elections.

The Election Monitoring Forum is an association of 31 organisations and 26 NGOs registered under the Election Commission.

They deployed 5,765 observers in 214 constituencies of 299 where the elections took place. They visited 17,165 centres.

“Based on their information, we can say it was a peaceful election and it’s been far better than the previous elections,” Prof Mohammed Abed Ali, executive director, Election Monitoring Forum, said.

He described the violence which took place in different areas outside Dhaka as “not unusual” considering the size of the population of 160 million.

They asked the authorities to identify videos of previous elections violence circulated in social media.

Canadian observer Tania Foster and Chally Foster, Former Nepalese minister Hakikullah Muslim and MP Nazir Mia, Nepalese lawyer Advocate Mohammadin Ali, Former President of Kolkata Press Club Kamal Bhattacharja, Lawyer Gautom Ghosh from Kolkata, Mohammed Ehsan Iqbal from Sri Lanka, and SAARC Human Rights Foundation’s director Masum Chowdhury were present during the press briefing.

The international observers visited 24 centres in Dhaka divided into three groups.

In some centres, they did not find polling agents of opposition BNP.

When asked, the presiding officers told them that they can ensure access only when the agents will turn up to the centre. “If the agents do not come, then how can we bring them here,” one told them.

Former President of Kolkata Press Club Kamal Bhattacharja said he had observed Bangladesh twice before as a reporter.

“This time I came as an observer and I asked questions to the people in the queue for voting and nobody told me they faced any harassment or intimidation or threat before coming to the polling centre.”

Canadian observer Foster said she was able to ask questions to the voters and election officials.

“Voters expressed their confidence. It was a very peaceful and organised election,” she said.